book review

Incredible Retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame | Night Spinner by Addie Thorley

Friday, May 22, 2020

Night Spinner by Addie Thorley

Publisher: Page Street Kids
Publication Date: 2/11/20
Pages: 391
Source: publisher in exchange for an honest review (Thank you, Page Street Kids!)
Before the massacre at Nariin, Enebish was one of the greatest warriors in the Sky King’s Imperial Army: a rare and dangerous Night Spinner, blessed with the ability to control the threads of darkness. Now, she is known as Enebish the Destroyer―a monster and murderer, banished to a monastery for losing control of her power and annihilating a merchant caravan. Guilt stricken and scarred, Enebish tries to be grateful for her sanctuary, until her adoptive sister, Imperial Army commander Ghoa, returns from the war front with a tantalizing offer. If Enebish can capture the notorious criminal, Temujin, whose band of rebels has been seizing army supply wagons, not only will her crimes be pardoned, she will be reinstated as a warrior. Enebish eagerly accepts. But as she hunts Temujin across the tundra, she discovers the tides of war have shifted, and the supplies he’s stealing are the only thing keeping thousands of shepherds from starving. Torn between duty and conscience, Enebish must decide whether to put her trust in the charismatic rebel or her beloved sister. No matter who she chooses, an even greater enemy is advancing, ready to bring the empire to its knees.
Two years ago, the famed Enebish the Destroyer was exiled from her home after killing innocent merchants in the war effort. Her half-sister, Ghoa, persuaded the king to allow Enebish to live the rest of her days, comfortable, in a countryside monastery. However, when it seems that the country is losing the war, Ghoa returns with a proposition for Enebish. She must go undercover to unmask a Robin Hood-esque troop, and only then can her title as warrior be reinstated. In this gorgeous retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Night Spinner by Addie Thorley whisks readers into an intriguing world of twists and turns.

hunchback of notre dame GIF

  • It wasn’t hard to get swept up into these characters' lives. Their emotions seem so close on the page that it was already 20 pages in and I was ready to cry along with them. 
  • When reading, I tend to gravitate toward interesting sibling relationships, whether close or estranged. Night Spinner follows two half-sisters, Enebish and Ghoa, who were inseparable in the past but circumstance has deeply changed that. Enebish is in exile while Ghoa still ranks as a commander for the king. The power dynamic that these two have is astounding, making for some riveting scenes. The sisterly bond, however tainted, here is almost tangible.
  • Night Spinner is inspired by the classic tale, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I have not read The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo so I cannot attest to its similarities though the Disney movie is one of my favorites. Even though I'm not familiar with the original work, I still appreciate Thorley’s fantastic work that brings such an underrated tale to life. 
  • Enebish is quiet and reserved, certain traits that she accumulated while living at the monastery. Yet, there is a fire within her. And even though she herself saw this fire as a monster at first, the journey to self-acceptance is truly lovely. 
  • The action sequences are incredibly well constructed throughout the plot. More than half the book reads as a war novel so there’s quite bit of strategy discussion and politics. Books that take place during wars, that deal with such elements like politics and war strategy usually isn’t something I like, but with Night Spinner, Enebish’s journey of accepting her magic and gaining her confidence made me push through the grit of war to reach the character development underneath. 
  • Night Spinner will leave you on the edge of your seat. Thorley writes these cast of characters in such a way that at multiple points in the book, you will never know who to trust. As much as Enebish was fast to trust everyone in the beginning of the book, she quickly becomes wary of everyone. There were moments where I was sure she was on the right path with one group only to be turned around in the next scene and start rooting for another group. 
  • Thorley’s writing is compelling and urges readers onwards. The world building is absolutely superb! Instead of dumping all the world information on you at once, she shares the history through her characters’ dialogue. Most of the past is cleverly shared through Enebish’s anecdotes. Also, since Enebish has been in exile for quite some time, Thorley shares information about the world (its politics, history, and more) with the protagonist as well—so as we learn about the world, Enebish is also seeing it for the first time. 
  • The ending reads as a new beginning, swiftly ready for the continuation that readers will receive in the sequel. It makes the series easy to binge if you have the second book on hand. Alas, I’ll have to wait until the sequel releases to find out what happens next. Night Spinner leaves readers with tons of questions that I hope will be answered in the sequel. The sequel, Sky Breaker, releases in May 2021 (according to Goodreads).

Night Spinner by Addie Thorley is an incredible retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame that will take readers on a wild ride. Despite an open-ended conclusion, readers will be clamoring to read the sequel as soon as they finish this one.

book tag

I Should Have Read That Book - Book Tag

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I haven’t done a book tag in a while and I had this one bookmarked from last year. I haven’t seen many people do this tag, nor was I tagged myself. However, it looked like fun! I love talking about all the books that are on my tbr but I haven’t read yet. The “I Should Have Read That Book” book tag is a great way to bring attention to all the books I should really put to the top of my tbr. Let me know which books I should start with first.

This wonderful tag was created by Beth at

A book that a certain friend is always telling you to read 

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier: I know, I’ve had this one for a while. Yet, the series seems never ending and I just need to commit. Adult high fantasy doesn’t really appeal to me as much as the YA light fantasy I usually gravitate towards. However, I know this series is a staple of fantasy literature and definitely want to check it out one day.

A book that’s been on your TBR forever and yet you still haven’t picked it up

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead: I adored the Vampire Academy series when I read them but I’m not sure if I would like the spin off series as much.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: This one lives at the back of my bookshelf and I don’t even know why I’ve been putting these series off. I love a good Jack the Ripper reimagining and adore Maureen Johnson so I should definitely enjoy this series, right?

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa: I’ve never read anything by Julie Kagawa even though I own most of this series and her newly released series, Shadow of the Fox. The Iron King seems like it would be such a fast series read, I just need to pick them up.

A book series you’ve started, but haven’t gotten round to finishing yet

Vampirates by Justin Somper: I read up to the third book in the series and remember really loving these. Yet, I never finished the series and they remain untouched on my shelf. One day, I hope.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige: I have every intention of finishing this series this year. I recently read the third book and hope to finish off the series sometime soon.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: Science fiction isn’t something I usually pick up but I did enjoy The 5th Wave when I read it so I hope to someday get to the other two books in the series.

A classic you’ve always liked the sound of, but never actually read

And Then There We’re None by Agatha Christie: Every time there's a film adaptation, you can bet that I'm watching this one. Even though the mystery of who-dun-it is spoiled for me, I still think reading the book would be awesome!

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: I can't tell you much about this one. Yet, every time someone reads it and discusses it, it sounds so intriguing and I'm interested in checking it out!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: If Kayla from BooksandLala didn't inspire you to pick this classic up from her video raving over it, I don't know what will. I immediately added it to my to-read pile after watching her video.

A popular book that it seems everyone but you has read

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas | Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare | Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

A book that inspired a film/TV adaptation that you really love, but you just haven’t read it yet 

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo | The Help by Kathryn Stockett | Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

A book you see all over Instagram but haven’t picked up yet

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka: Confession here, but I ended up buying this book at the suggestion of Instagram. I, actually, didn’t know anything about this book until it showed up on Instagram so I looked it up and it sounds like something I’ll really love. I just haven’t read it yet.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: I feel like everyone talks about this one on Instagram. It’s been on my radar for some time but I’m just still on the fence about it.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: I see this occasionally on Instagram and it always serves as a reminder that I still haven’t read it. Time traveling books is my jam so I’m excited to get to this one!

Which book do you think I should start reading right now?

book review

Political Intrigue and Clever Worldbuilding | The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 3/3/20
Pages: 432
Source: publisher in exchange for an honest review (Thanks, Little Brown!)

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke's daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse. When Ekata's brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family's icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness. In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother's warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love...or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family's power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it. Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what's right in the face of danger.
Ekata’s dream is to study medicine. She doesn’t have much interest in ruling a kingdom like all her other siblings. When her family falls into a mysterious, magical coma, she must rule as Grand Duke as the sole survivor. At first, she expects them all to wake up—after all, magic is only temporary. However, as more time passes, it becomes clear that this attack has been a threat to the whole kingdom and it’s up to Ekata to weave her way through the political trenches to uncover the secrets of this strange magic. In this loose retelling of Sleeping Beauty and Anastasia, the stakes are incredibly high and nothing is as it seems.

  • Having read Claire Eliza Bartlett's debut, We Rule the Night, I already knew that I adored her writing. It is both riveting and masterful. However, it was Ekata’s inner thoughts that really captured my attention. Her snarkiness coupled with her desire to study medicine instead of being a ruler made her seem so real. Her internal struggle of wanting to run away to become a scholar instead of facing her destiny of becoming Grand Duke was an emotion all readers can relate to. Bartlett excels in writing characters incredibly well. If you're looking for fantastic, real characters, you definitely need to read one of Bartlett's books. 
  • When I heard about The Winter Duke, I immediately added it to my to-read list. The Winter Duke is a mashup of Anastasia and Sleeping Beauty. Two retellings that I didn’t know I wanted together until now. Though I must warn you, the mashup of the two is used very loosely as readers will find some elements of each (the politics of the Romanov family mashed with a magical sleeping curse) but in no way does it follow the same themes or concepts of the two stories. The Winter Duke remains an original, fresh take on a few elements we’ve seen before, such as a strange sleeping curse.
  • The world building is absolutely superb. Bartlett surely knows how to make her worlds come alive. I hope she returns to this world in a future novel as the concept of a frozen land intrigues me. The Winter Duke takes place in, only what I can describe as, Elsa’s ice palace. Yet, Bartlett structured her world so that while the palace sits Above, there is an entire world Below. Below doesn’t get explored as much as I would have liked. Both Ekata and I still have more questions than answers about what lies Below. 
scared disney frozen GIF by Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • The pacing is rather slow though I wouldn't call it a character driven or even plot driven book. It's more of a political scheming game where the characters tend to overpower the plot. However slow, the book is calculated and well-structured with several twists thrown at you to keep you interested. The chapters are very long which may be the reason why it seems so slow.
  • The chapters are divided by day 1, day 2, etc. This is rather helpful for readers. However, there are instances where Ekata wonders herself how many days has passed and both her thoughts and the chapter dividers seem to confuse the reader unnecessarily.
  • If you're going into this expecting a grand female/ female romance, you will be sorely disappointed. The entire circumstances of that relationship started out very superficial and continued on for political gain. As much as I'm happy to see diverse elements in YA fantasy as that is one genre where diverse elements are most lacking (though slowly becoming more present in releases), the relationship itself seems abrupt. As the story continues on, there are some affectionate, swoon-worthy scenes but most of it was rather surface level. 
  • The ending was such a shock as the slow pace switched to a jaw dropping, action packed pace in a matter of a few pages. The pace picked up considerably during the last 15 percent of the book when everything seemed to fall into place. 
  • I do enjoy that both We Rule the Night and The Winter Duke are fantasy standalones. It would be so amazing if Bartlett wrote a sequel to this one though. The direction the ending had led was most refreshing and it would be interesting to see how all the characters fare afterwards. 
If you're a fan of The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, you'll definitely adore The Winter Duke! Filled with political intrigue and clever worldbuilding, The Winter Duke enchanted me from the very first page. 

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Book Series I've Most Recently Abandoned

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

While in quarantine, it seems I’ve been more likely to abandon books (to hopefully pick up later). I usually push my way through anything, even when I’m not liking a book. However, since I’m stuck in the house, it’s difficult to say when a reading slump may be coming on. In hopes of avoiding a slump, I’ve been very picky with my books. That’s exactly the case with these books since I’ve decided once and for all that I will not be continuing in the following series.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: The Last 10 Books I’ve Abandoned:

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken: I finished the first book in the series when the movie released. However, the dystopian genre with a rebellion/revolution plot is a bit overplayed. It’s not something I gravitate towards anymore. However, Alexandra Bracken’s time traveling duology series, Passenger, was fantastic!

Eve by Anna Carey: I read Eve back when I was in high school. It’s a dystopian novel, and that’s all I can remember about it. It’s just not a series for me.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake: I don’t have a good reason why I’m abandoning this one. I enjoyed the first one and thought it was dark and creepy at times. I just never picked up the sequel and now that I’ve waited too long, I’d have to reread the first. Maybe I’ll return to it someday.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: No, no, don’t get me wrong. I continue to finish out the original trilogy. I’ve already read the first two in the series and intend to read the third sometime this year. However, the newer books just don’t appeal to me.

The Conqueror's Saga by Kiersten White: While I adored White’s writing in And I Darken, as well as in her other books like the Paranormalcy series, I thought the pacing of this one was way too slow. I will not be continuing in this series.

Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon: My brother read and enjoyed this series so I thought I’d give it a try. Maybe readers have to be familiar with her adult fantasy series which this young adult series is a spin off of. However, I felt a little lost reading the first book, Infinity, and it just wasn’t for me.

The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman: I know, blasphemy! Especially now that Illuminae is as hyped as the first day it came out. I thought it was just okay. Mind you, I don’t really like science fiction. I loved the mixed media approach and was happy to find other books in other genres that experiment that way too, like The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich.

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead: I adored Mead’s Vampire Academy books and Soundless, a superb standalone fantasy. The Glittering Court turned out to be unexpected, as the synopsis didn’t really prepare me for what was in store. Seeing, also, as each book in the series follows a different character, I don’t see the point in continuing when I didn’t much care for the first book.

Beautiful Idols by Alyson Noel: Back in high school, I was obsessed with reading anything by Noel but most of her plots involve high school and drama, which is not something I pick up anymore. Her most recent series has way too much drama. While I tried reading the first book, I just don’t think I could force myself to continue on in the series.

The Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith: I was a hardcore Vampire Diaries fan back in the day. Yet, when L.J. Smith stopped writing the books and the publisher continued the series under ghost writers, I just didn’t want to continue.

What series have you abandoned recently?

kickin' it

Every Book I've Read Since February 2020 (Wrap Up)

Monday, May 04, 2020

Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve updated, hasn’t it? I was alright for about the first month of the year, trying to juggle my first semester of grad school with blogging and other life things. Then after a certain point, I just couldn’t keep up with it all and knew that either my school work would start suffering or my blogging would have to take a backseat. Currently, I’m finishing up the semester and am only taking one class this summer so I intend to fully get back into the swing of things, at least until late August. We shall see, depending on the work load, then. Despite not having time to blog or write reviews, I have been reading (albeit at a slower pace). Here’s every single book I’ve read during the months of February, March, and April:

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (4 stars): I don’t think I’ve read a Judy Blume ever and I know that this one is such a classic so I decided to give it a go. And I understand why it’s such a classic; it definitely gave me nostalgic feels for the 90s.

Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become by Peter Morville (3 stars): I had to read this one for class. Most of the content was interesting but a bit dated.

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige (4 stars): Going in, I thought this was going to be the finale but its just the third in the series. I preferred the first over any of the sequels, thus far, but I did like the introduction of the new characters in this. I can’t wait to see where Paige takes us in the fourth novel.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger (4 stars): Another book for class. I enjoyed this as it discussed different influential marketing strategies and how one can make things go viral.

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali (4 stars): I remember very little about this book but I did adore it!

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (3 stars): I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in January, and to be honest, I actually preferred that one over this one. However, both classics were just okay for me.

Daylighters by Rachel Caine (5 stars): After all these years, I finally finished the Morganville Vampire series. Concluding a 15-book series must have been difficult so I must applaud Caine here because I was happy by how everything ended.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (5 stars): I’m hearing mixed reviews on this one but I liked it better than the first. With Carry On, I was so annoyed throughout the whole thing that it was basically a rip off of Harry Potter. While enjoying the first one, Rainbow Rowell took the time in this book to flesh out the characters. I admit, the plot isn’t very strong in this but we are able to see where the series may go in the future.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (4 stars): Can you believe this is my very first time reading this? The movie was such a staple in my life growing up that I’m so glad, I picked this one up.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee (4 stars): I usually never read novellas but I was just curious to see what Monty was up to since A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. It was a very short, lovely novella that I would definitely reread.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (3 stars): The concept of building a romance based on post-it-notes and two characters that had never met sounds like a recipe of an adorable relationship. How O’Leary went about executing the concept was another matter entirely. I enjoyed it but it didn’t give me the feels, I wasn’t very invested, and the writing was just okay for me.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (4 stars): First Christina Lauren book I’ve ever read, but I’m happy to report that I will be reading more from her in the future. This was great and so much fun!

Breakable by Tammara Webber (3 stars): I’ve been waiting to read this one for a while now. Easy was a favorite of mine a few years ago and when Breakable released, I knew I had to read it. I thought Breakable was going to be a direct sequel but instead it’s Easy but from the male character’s perspective. Instead of a new adult romance (like we got from Easy), this time readers are in for a coming-of-age story and that’s not my jam.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (3.5 stars): Project Runway meets Mulan is spot on for this book. However, I struggled through its incredibly slow pace and it only seemed to pick up at the last 50 pages. So much so that I’m considering reading the sequel.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (4 stars): I know what you’re thinking, “Christmas in spring?” Yes, well, I think we all need a little Christmas after the spring we’ve had. Surprisingly, this is the only Dickens I’ve actually enjoyed.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (4 stars): Since I’m working my way through some classics, I decided to start The Chronicles of Narnia. There was a time before I had an account on Goodreads, when I read some of this series. However, since I didn’t write which ones I’ve read down, we’re doing a reread/read through of the series. This story was fun and full of whimsy!

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (4 stars): Having seen the movie before, it was interesting to finally see how the two differ.

The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen (3 stars): Knowing how dark Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales can be, it was probably not the best time to read this collection when I was looking for something light and fluffy.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (3 stars): I went into this thinking it was a romance, and it wasn’t. It’s a lovely story that was surprisingly, filled with whimsical characters.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (3 stars): The story about the four siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—were very strong so to have them take a backseat in this story about a runaway slave seemed like a bad choice here. I wasn’t very invested in the new characters, and I didn’t quite see the point of this one except to introduce readers to the politics in Narnia.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 22, 23, 24 by Hiromu Arakawa (4 stars): One last collection remains on my to-read list and then—it’s hard to believe—I finish the entire Fullmetal Alchemist series. I adore these books and the characters are absolutely wonderful!

What books have you loved lately?